Health Officials stumped by 4 cases of E. coli, county fair may be to blame

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CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. - State and local health officials are currently scrambling to determine if they have an actual E. coli outbreak or four individual cases reported around the same time.

The Cleveland County Fair, which ended on Sunday, has not been ruled the source of the contamination, but three of the four reported cases are from children who were.

The parents of a 12-year-old from Gaston County believe he is in intensive care now because of something he ate at the fair last week.

Others who have been affected are a 3-year-old, who attended the fair with a daycare group, as well as an 11-year-old who came with his family. Both of them were treated and released.

The fourth case, which is from Catawba County, has no link to the fair.

Investigators will be roping off part of the fairgrounds in case they need to test the soil or do other tests to determine what caused the E. coli cases.

Doctors say the most common symptoms of an E. coli infection are very similar to the flu, which include severe stomach cramps and nausea. Young children, the elderly and people with other medical conditions are the most at risk.